Recently I got a text from a friend “Have your sh *It ready when you hit security” complaining about the traveller in front of her at airport security.
I thought of me when I divetravel.
There is the brief distance between baggage drop-off and security where I look “normal”. Or as normal as I can look.
Then I reach the security belt.
“Remove any liquids, laptops, iPads” the officer repeats like a tired, broken record as I lift my carryon onto the belt. I have a contorted smile from lifting the “8kgs” allowed on budget airlines trying to give off the oh-its -empty-vibe. The officer asks me if I have any liquids, laptops, iPads?” I reply no, no, no (but I really want to say you wish, you wish, you wish) as I open my trolley and detonate an explosion of underwear, socks, fluffy leggings and wooly baselayers.
In an awkward attempt to contain the explosion I start taking out the camera body, lens, housing (stuffed with more fluff – you can never be warm enough underwater), strobe, etc. With each item I take out all the contents that need to stay inside pour out from all sides! Just one more tray to place the last two items but the trays ran out. I wait, the person behind me starts fidgeting. Finally everything is in its own tray and are slowly being gobbled up by the X-ray machine. And burped out again back and forth as the officer’s confusion increases trying to make out what the hell the metal tube with a battery and lots of wires in it is. The battery pack of the umbilical torch and the strobe. The passenger behind me, who was getting impatient, breathes a sigh of relief, he is ready to take position when I plonk on the belt my innocuous looking “small bag” that I can take on board free of charge. But this is when the struggle begins as this ain’t no small bag! It is like Mary Poppin’s bag if she were to fly Ryanair. Well just less magical so the regs are so tightly fit in don’t fly out with a snap of a finger. But rather require quite a struggle. Eventually I manage to pull out the octopus from it’s hole and serve it to the X-ray machine. I take a step towards the body scanner oh wait an Allen key in my pocket. I throw it in the tray at the last minute, hair swish and off I go to the other side.
Where in the rarest of cases I get a knowing look from the security and “a diver, huh?” and in the worse case I need to explain:
“according to the transport security administration I AM allowed to take a wrench up to 7 inches”
“yes those are regulators. For diving. Yes scuba diving. I was diving off the beaten waves, yes you can dive there, rather nice”
Only once, did I have to spend some time in the airport bathroom waving like a madwoman at the sink with my old torch under trying to discharge the battery as they would not let me pass if the battery was charged. I changed torch since.
I then spend time re-assembling my things in a vaguely ordered manner (or at least so that it fits). And with a “it was packed so much better when I left home” look. I inch towards the gate humming the “Ryanair song”: